MTR Network (tv & film)

Detroit is a film that is well made, well acted but ultimately leaves you wondering who exactly this film was made for and why. We left the theater angry at what was shown in this film and while on the surface that might be viewed as the purpose of the film, that’s not good enough. The film is basically black torture porn where the villains (white cops) win in the end. There aren’t any moments where the past is tied to the present or a reflective call to arms for the audience. Instead it does what Kathryn Bigelow does best which is humanize white men who are terrible individuals while using black and brown people as punching bags. There are a lot of ways this film could have been made to address the tough subject matter without making it feel like an empty, deflating snuff film but that’s not what happened. The film makes a point to mention that there is debate over exactly what happened at the Algiers Motel that night yet it has no problem going into gory details drummed up from the filmmaker’s own mind.

Again, I have no problem with films that involve our (African Americans) history and the brutality that we’ve had to endure. I’m even one of the few who is on the fence about HBO’s Confederate (Granted, I have little faith in show runners who it took 5 seasons to finally figure out what rape is to do this right). But the problem with Detroit is that its really a film that treats black pain and death as a spectator sport with zero push back or fight. There's plenty of talk about the looters during the riot but none about WHY the people had been pushed over the edge. For 120 minutes we watch black people treated like animals. At one point early on in the film its implied that a little black girl is killed by the 50 caliber machine gun on the back of a tank rolling through the streets of Detroit. All of that is shown but when its time for the trials of the officers involved in the Algiers Motel murders, we get the abridged version in 10 minutes.

You can listen to our full review and why we can’t recommend this film. I honestly don’t know why anyone would want to see it.

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Direct download: Detroit_Review_1.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 8:47am EDT

Atomic Blonde is a film with great action and a great cast that will ultimately leave audiences feeling underwhelmed due to misleading promotion and a poor script. First off, the promotion of Atomic Blonde as the “First Female Bond” is not only misleading but doesn’t do the type of film Atomic Blonde is trying to be justice. Atomic Blonde is attempting to be a dark, gritty spy thriller set in the late 80’s with a more realistic feel to it. None of that describes any film starring James Bond. Trailers focused on the action in addition to David Leitch as director, may give audiences the impression that this is in the same vein as John Wick but that would also be a mistake. The John Wick movies are usually light on story and focused mostly on action. Atomic Blonde attempts to do more with its story, it just doesn’t do it well. And that’s a shame. With actors like Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones and others, the potential is there for an amazing story. Sadly, it’s just wasted potential. The acting is good, but that’s just because the raw talent in this film compensates for the script they were given.

Atomic Blonde isn’t a bad film. Anyone who wanted to see this film, definitely should. The action scenes are brutal and fantastic. Theron and McAvoy are great. But when the credits roll, there’s a good chance audiences might feel a little empty inside wishing there had been a more robust story.

Listen to Kriss & Phenom give their full review above and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Direct download: Atomic_Blonde_Review_2.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 8:27am EDT

Phenom and Ashley review The Book of Henry.

With instructions from her genius son's carefully crafted notebook, a single mother sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather.

 

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Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 11:02am EDT

What could be worse than yet another Final Destination movie? How about an even lazier Final Destination knockoff? Wish Upon is what happens when you want to make another Final Destination movie but get told “No” so you try to find a way to make it happen anyway.

Now to be fair, going in, you probably already knew this movie wasn’t going to be good. Trailers for this film looked like the boilerplate, half-thought out teen horror film that we’ve seen before. But it didn’t have to be. Wish Upon could have bucked the norms but instead it just doubles down on the problems teen horror films always seem to have. Characters that the audience has no connection to are killed but their deaths are supposed to have impact. The film breaks its own rules halfway through about who dies. But most egregious of all the problems, the lead character is not only stupid but completely unlikable. Joey King plays Clare Shannon who quickly goes from a character you have some sympathy for, to a character you absolutely despise for how selfish and stupid she is.

The plot goes like this, after her mother’s suicide (which comes back later in the most obvious “twist” ever put to film), Clare is raised by her father Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe). Her father gives her a “wish box” not knowing what it is. Clare’s first two wishes are accidents that she thinks are just coincidences along with the deaths of two “people” (people is in quotes for a reason) close her. But by the third wish, Clare knows the box is real. By the 4th or 5th wish, she learns what the price of a wish is (the death of someone close to her….kinda). But she keeps making wishes. Not only does she keep making wishes but…her wishes are stupid, even for a young teenage outcast girl. And that’s why this film is just so terrible. It uses stereotypical tropes about teens and how they interact with each other (as friends and in relationships) that is just eye rolling bad. At one point she wishes that her dad would be less embarrassing. Yes. That is the wish she makes that costs someone their life. To have a less embarrassing parent.

The film feels like it was written and directed by the same baby boomers who write articles about how millennials are destroying the very fabric of reality. You have to start wondering if they've ever spent any significant time with anyone under the age of 30. 

Listen to our full review on iTunes/Stitcher/Google Play Music or stream/download the full review above.

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Direct download: Wish_Upon_Review_1.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 5:59am EDT

We’ll be blunt: You’re not going to like A Ghost Story. Don’t waste your time or money for this film. It’s not made for you. David Lowery’s film falls into the same category as It Comes At Night. It’s not made for audiences to go and be entertained. Rather its made to give pretentious critics the opportunity to use a lot of words to heap praise and a ridiculous and boring movie.

A Ghost Story reminds me of those jokes about pretentious people in an art gallery looking at a stain on a wall and trying to one-up each other with what the “stain” really means. Then in walks a janitor with a rag and wipes away the stain saying “its not a piece of art, it was just throw up from a kid who walked by earlier”.

There’s nothing wrong with directors and cinematographers making movies that highlight certain artistic forms or allow them to “get weird” without feeling pressure to appeal to a broad base. But those experiments really don’t belong in the theater. Films like this are like tech demos video game studios make to show off cool new graphics. They have a specific technical purpose but everyone knows they lack the meat and potatoes to be actual games. That’s what A Ghost Story is. As a film, there can be some artistic quality to this that can spark conversations among film makers over techniques. But as a film for audience consumption, it’s insulting. Despite what some critics will have you think, there's nothing intriguing, thoughtful, intense about watching Rooney Mara eat an entire pie on the floor for 5 minutes while a man in a  sheet watches. It’s a child’s boogers smeared on the wall of an art gallery that people are trying to convince themselves is art.

The overall concept of this film is better suited for a short 10 minute film, not 92 minutes of mostly silence where you're stuck watching scenes where absolutely nothing happens. Yes, the film is about the enormity of time and how we conceptualize that. Yes, its an interesting concept to think about life/death/time from the perspective of a ghost/spirit and what that means. But execution matters here. Too many times film makers get caught up in their high level concepts or the technical accomplishments and forget about the simple purpose of: Will anyone want to actually watch this?

And for A Ghost Story? The answer is simple: No.

Stream/download the full review.

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Direct download: A_Ghost_Story_Review_1.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 5:58am EDT

The third film in the Planet of the Apes rebooted series is by far the most emotional and best looking out of the bunch. War for the Planet Apes is so emotional and looks so good that at times you will forget that the main characters and actors are "apes". This series has slowly moved away from the humans and towards Caesar and the apes being the main characters with each progressing film. 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes introduced us to Caesar but still had James Franco carrying a heavy load. In 2014, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes put more responsibility on Andy Serkis and the actors playing the apes, but still had heavy human character influences. But War for the Planet of the Apes moves the humans to side characters. Almost every emotional scene in this film is carried by actors in motion capture portraying apes.

This film is truly a masterpiece. It will catch you off guard by how emotional it is and how much acting is done between the actors portraying apes. This film wraps serious discussions about revolution, slavery, war and racial dynamics into an entertaining film involving primates. One word of warning, the trailers were cut to purposely mislead and tell a completely different story than the one actually shown in film. And that's for the better.

Listen to Kriss & Tim break down this film (no spoilers). Stream or download from the audio player above.

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Direct download: War_for_the_Planet_of_the_Apes_Review_2.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 10:43pm EDT

Our review of Spider-Man Homecoming is finally here. We've been sitting on this review for over a week now and we can finally release it. Marvel has gotten Sony back in the win column with Spider-Man Homecoming. We don't look forward to the nostalgia debate by those still holding onto Spider-Man 2 but to us, Spider-Man Homecoming is the best live action Spider-Man film to date. Tom Holland captures the essence of teenage Peter Parker perfectly. Robert Downey Jr. isn't overused as Tony Stark in this film (no, its not even close to Iron Man 4). And Michael Keaton is the perfect villain in this film.

The rest of the supporting cast is just as good. And the best part, its diverse. I know there has been some talk about the diverse characters in this movie being only supporting characters but I think there's a lot of room for them being elevated to bigger roles.  Also keep an eye out of a lot of cameos by characters that are known in Spider-Man lore, particularly his early years (Listen to our Teenage Peter Parker Character Corner for a heads up).

Our spoiler review of this movie will go into more details and will hopefully be out next week.

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Direct download: Spider-Man__Homecoming_Review.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 7:25pm EDT

Kriss, Phenom and Ashley review Despicable Me 3, the third (techncially 4th if you include the Minions movie) film in the Despicable Me series. Despicable Me is known for the way it balances appealing to not only kids but adults with certain references and the third film is no different. Steve Carell pulls double duty this film returning to not only voice Gru one more time but also Gru's long lost twin brother, Dru. He is joined by Kristen Wiig (Lucy) , Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith) and Nev Scharrel (Agnes). Pierre Coffin is the voice of the mischievous (and lovable) Minions.

The standout in this film might be Trey Parker though who voices Balthazar Bratt, the villain in the film. Bratt is a former 80's child star turned villain who is upset that he was thrown to the side once he hit puberty. This leads to a plethora of 80's references and music throughout the film that should give adults plenty to laugh at alongside their kids. At one point Bratt conducts a heist while dancing and moonwalking to Michael Jackson's 'Bad'. It's fun for everyone.

In addition to reviewing the movie, Kriss & Phenom also have a discussion about this article from Wired that explains why Rotten Tomatoes (and Metacritic) are basically influencing what movies people see with fake information.

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Direct download: Despicable_Me_3_Review_1.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 6:13am EDT

On this episode, Shanna, The Doctor and their special guest Mo from the TV Movie Mistress podcast discuss AwesomeCon, NegroCon and what comics we're reading that you might want to dive into.

If you want to check out some of the books we discussed, follow the links:

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Direct download: Super_Tuesday_Recap-_AwesomeCon-NegroCon_Recap_1.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 5:51am EDT

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a fast past, fun heist movie that is both unique and fresh, while hitting the typical heist movie beats. You can always tell when a movie is a passion project of a great director because the level of detail and effort put in is hard to ignore. Baby Driver is Wright’s passion project come to life after 22 years as a concept in his head.

The most standout part of this film is the soundtrack and how it is integrated into this movie. Unlike most films where the music gets added in after the film is shot, because its importance, the music in Baby Driver was obtained first then had scenes shot around it. It makes for a thrilling film.

Our only real complaint about this film is that it seems like an odd time to release this film and that maybe later in the year would get it more attention. Listen to our full review to get all our thoughts on this film and leave us a comment to tell us what you thought.

Also the soundtrack was released last Friday and can be purchased on iTunes. Also released was the “Chase Me” music video by Danger Mouse featuring RTJ & Big Boi, so check that out as well.

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Direct download: Baby_Driver_Review_1.m4a
Category:TV & Film -- posted at: 9:46am EDT